Saturn’s Magnetic Field Model

Simulations from the New Johns Hopkins University give an interesting view of the interior of Saturn. This suggests that a dense layer of helium rain influences the magnetic field of the earth.

The models published in AGU Advances also show that indoor Saturn will feature higher temperatures in the equatorial zone. This is further accompanied by lower temperatures at the top of the helium rain layer at high latitudes.

The inner systems of massive gaseous planets are famously difficult to research. Further, the results advance the quest to map the hidden regions of Saturn.

“In researching how Saturn developed, and how it changed over time, we will learn a lot about Saturn-like planets both inside and outside our solar system”. Says co-author Sabine Stanley, a planetary physicist from Johns Hopkins.

Magnetosphere of Saturn - Wikipedia

Saturn stands out from the planets of our solar system because it is almost exactly symmetrical in its magnetic field along the rotational axis.

Detailed magnetic field measurements from NASA’s recent Cassini mission orbits also offer better detail of the deep interior of this planet, where the magnetic field is formed. Said lead author Chi Yan, Ph.D. candidate for Johns Hopkins.

By transferring data collected by the Cassini mission to powerful computer models like those used to research climate and weather. Yan and Stanley investigated the ingredients needed to create the dynamo – the electromagnetic conversion device – that could represent Saturn’s magnetic field.

“One thing that we found was how resilient the model was to very particular things such as temperatures”. Said Stanley, also a distinguished Bloomberg Professor at Johns Hopkins.

“And now we have a very fascinating sample of the deep interior of Saturn up to 20,000 kilometres down. It’s a kind of vision of X-rays.” Strikingly, the simulations of Yan and Stanley show that there may potentially be a small degree of non-axisymmetry between Saturn’s north and south poles.

“Since Saturn’s findings are completely symmetrical, we can thoroughly question the field in our computer simulations”. Stanley said.

Direct measurement at the poles would be important to prove it. But it may have consequences to understand another challenge that scientists have been vexing for decades. How to calculate the rate at which Saturn is rotating?

This experiment was carried through the Maryland Advanced Research Computing Center using computational tools (MARCC).

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